Car Accidents: Causes and Courses of Action


Minnesotans depend heavily on their vehicles to take them everywhere. Driving means putting up with traffic jams, distracted or impaired drivers, and the ever-changing Minnesota weather.  Sometimes these challenges result in accidents.  They often happen out of nowhere and could leave you and your family reeling from the impact. If you have experienced a sudden car accident, consider speaking with one of the personal injury attorneys from Heller & Thyen, P.A. as soon as you are able. We are here to help you through this tough time.


Common Causes of Car Accidents


So, why do car crashes happen in the first place?

Car accidents can be caused by a wide variety of issues, including part defects, bad weather, and unsafe road conditions. Aside from vehicle maintenance and practicing safe driving techniques, drivers can’t control these external factors. They can, however, do something about distracted driving, which is one of the main causes of car accidents.


Driving is an inherently dangerous activity so driving while distracted significantly increases the chances a driver will make a mistake and cause an accident. Some of the activities that frequently lead to distracted driving include:

  • Being lost in thought, or driving on autopilot
  • Texting
  • Using a smartphone in general
  • Talking to or paying attention to passengers
  • Gazing out the windows at scenery
  • Eating or drinking
  • Grooming oneself
  • Watching videos
  • Physical impairment


The bottom line? Resist the urge to multitask while behind the wheel if you want to avoid getting into a car accident.


What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Car Accident Case?


Many aspects of your life can be affected by a car accident. A car accident lawyer can help you get compensation for a number of damages, including:


  • Medical and rehabilitation bills
  • Lost wages and loss of future income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Property damage


What to Do After a Car Accident


First, make sure that the cars involved in the accident are moved out of danger if this is possible.  If you are on a busy highway or street, make sure everyone is away from passing cars.  Take photographs of the vehicles in their original position, the damage to each vehicle and skid marks on the road if there are any visible.


Call the police and, if needed, ask for an ambulance if anyone is injured.

Make contact with the other driver and exchange personal information, including insurance and driver’s license information.  You can take a photo of the information to make sure everything is accurate.  Take photographs of the license plate of the other car.


If the other driver is agitated or threatening, do not engage in an argument or other contact.  Wait for the police to arrive and make sure that you explain to the officer how the accident happened.


Get the contact information of any witnesses, including telephone numbers.  Ask them what they saw and who they thought was at fault.  An independent witness will be extremely important if the cause of the accident is at all unclear.  Ask the witness to speak with the officer if they are willing to wait for them to arrive.  If they cannot or will not stay, provide the contact information to the police officer so they can make contact later.


If anyone in the accident complains of an injury, seek immediate medical attention. Don’t wait; go straight to the hospital or urgent care. This will document your injuries. Even if the accident wasn’t serious, if you are in any sort of pain, get evaluated by a doctor as soon as you can as many people underestimate the extent of their injuries because the accident causes an adrenaline rush. Delaying treatment creates an opportunity for insurance companies to argue that your injuries resulted from another some other mishap.


The following specific actions will preserve your legal rights and help you to recover:


  • Ask the police officer to write up a report. Be sure to ask for a copy for your records.


  • Collect evidence right after the accident. Get detailed contact information from every person involved, including names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. Also, take photos of the accident scene. Consider keeping any broken vehicle parts.


  • Don’t admit liability, as this could prevent you from filing a claim. Exercise caution when speaking to those involved in the crash, witnesses, and insurance representatives.


  • Call a car accident attorney. These legal experts can assess and build a case while helping you comprehend the law as it relates to your situation. Retaining an experienced lawyer is the most beneficial thing you can do when trying to obtain compensation.


At Heller & Thyen, P.A., we work with and represent clients who have suffered all sorts of injuries resulting from car accidents. Our St. Cloud lawyers can review your case thoroughly, give practical suggestions for how to move forward, and help you fully understand your legal rights. Call us today for a free consultation!

Understanding No-Fault Coverage in Minnesota


Everyone injured in a motor vehicle accident in Minnesota is entitled No-fault benefits. These benefits include coverage for medical treatment, including medical mileage, lost income, and replacement of essential services. These laws are meant to reduce the financial hardship that is caused by being involved in an accident relating to the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle.  


No-Fault benefits allow the injured person to choose the type of treatment that you want to have.  The insurance company is not permitted to direct they type or amount of care a car accident victim needs.  In fact, the law specifically includes chiropractic, physical therapy, orthopedic or neurologic care.  If you would prefer acupuncture, you can choose it and, so long as the treatment is reasonably priced, helpful and related to the accident, your car insurance will cover it.


Sometimes, insurance companies will have you seen by a doctor of their choice  This is called an “independent medical exam” or “IME”.  Unfortunately, such exams are hardly independent.  Make no mistake, the doctor the insurance company chooses is someone who routinely offers opinions favorable to the insurance company.  The result of the “exam” is the insurance company refusing to pay any additional medical care relating to the car wreck.  Even worse, sometimes the insurance company will refuse to pay bills that were already incurred.  We call this unfair practice a “retroactive denial”.  In either case, you will need to have someone in your corner to force the insurance company to pay the benefits that you deserve.  Fortunately, the law provides an inexpensive and relatively quick way to resolve the dispute through an arbitration.The St. Cloud lawyers of Heller & Thyen, P.A. can explain the ins-and-outs of no-fault benefits and help you file a claim with your insurance company.They can also enforce your rights if your company refuses to pay a bill. Whether or not you retain our services, we will provide you with practical advice so you can make informed decisions.


What Do No-Fault Benefits Cover?


Minnesota legally requires residents who store or drive their vehicles in-state to carry certain types and amounts of car insurance. No-fault coverage includes the following:

Personal Injury Protection (PIP):


  • $40,000 per person, per accident, with up to $20,000 going toward medical costs and up to  $20,000 for lost wages  at 85% of your weekly gross income with a maximum of $500 per week.

  • Up to $2,000 for funeral costs in the event of death.


No-fault benefits also cover mileage costs for trips to and from medical providers, replacement services costs, and a number of other costs incurred by the injured, insured party.


These are the minimum coverages.  You can purchase additional no-fault benefits from your insurance agent.  Make sure that you ask for the coverage!


What Happens if Car Accident Costs Exceed No-Fault Coverage Limits?


Because No-Fault insurance is designed to provide immediate relief for the financial hardship caused by car accidents, the amount of coverage available is limited.  On occasion, an accident will cause significant injuries and, therefore, result in more medical bills or lost wages than the no-fault benefits will cover.


If your bills exceed the amount of coverage you have under your policy, you will need to provide the medical providers with your personal health insurance.  Usually your health insurer will need verification from your auto insurance company that the medical benefits have been exhausted before they will pay.  If your insurance company has refused to pay a bill, even though you have additional benefits available, you will need to provide your insurance company with a letter from your auto insurer that they are denying further payment.


Can I get the other person’s insurance company to pay the excess expenses?


If your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover any medical bills or lost income that was not covered by your no-fault benefits.  In addition, you may also be able to recover damages for pain, suffering, disability, permanency of your injuries, as will as future damages that are reasonably certain to occur.  In order to make this claim, you will have to prove that you meet certain factors, which we call “thresholds”.  Keep in mind, if you do receive compensation from the at-fault party, and you had your personal health insurance pay some of your medical bills, your health insurer has a right of “subrogation” that allows them to get paid back some or all of what they paid.  An experienced attorney can help you deal with such a situation.


In Minnesota, drivers can only file a liability case if they’ve accumulated $4,000 or more in justifiable medical expenses related to the car accident, or suffered a permanent injury, permanent disfigurement, or can prove a disability for 60 days or more. policy coverage.


Liability cases can only be filed if the other driver is found to be responsible for the accident. With that in mind, hiring a personal injury lawyer can help victims of car accidents legally prove the other party was liable. Filing for compensation of these expenses can also be time- and paperwork-intensive. The personal injury attorneys at Heller & Thyen, P.A. are here to help you understand and navigate this lengthy legal process. Whether you want to file a simple no-fault case or also need to seek liability compensation, our St. Cloud lawyers will provide the legal assistance you need to recover after a traumatic car accident. Call us today for a free consultation!


Minnesota Slip and Fall Attorneys

Slip and fall accidents are among the most common types of litigated casualties in the United States. They can sometimes be so serious that they result in injuries requiring expensive and extensive medical treatment. Common injuries from falling include fractured legs, ankles and arms.  Some severe breaks even require surgery.  Head injuries are also common. Consulting a personal injury lawyer after a slip and fall can help to determine if you are eligible for compensation due to the negligence of a property or business owner.

What Circumstances Can Lead to Slips and Falls?

A slip and fall injury happens when the dangerous condition of another person’s property causes someone to lose their balance and fall to the ground. As such, there are as many types of slip and fall accidents as there are places they can occur. Some of the most common places people slip and fall include:


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We all know that auto accidents happen. It comes with the territory when you’re driving down the road at anywhere from 25-65 miles per hour (or more), along with everybody else. Even if you’re a cautious and responsible driver, there’s no accounting for every other car on the road. Plenty of drivers succumb to distraction, drive under the influence, or simply screw up. It happens.

When you’re heading to work, running errands, or going to visit a friend, you may suddenly find yourself at the mercy of someone who’s texting and driving. Perhaps it’s someone who didn’t get enough sleep last night, or who decided to run that red light or roll through the stop sign. Whether you’re doing everything right or you hold equal blame for causing an accident, you could find yourself dealing with an injury and mounting medical bills.


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